Concord Times (Freetown)

23 November 2012

Sierra Leone: Alleged Voter Fraud in Kono

Recounting of quarantined ballot papers by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) was reported to have started yesterday in the eastern district town of Kono where over one hundred and sixty-one polling stations were allegedly recorded faulty.

NEC officials, political party representatives, national and international observers were said to have witnessed the recounting exercise in Koidu, Sandoh and other parts of Kono district. NEC embarked on the exercise after the regional tally centre in Kenema quarantined a good number of ballot envelopes from the district.

A NEC official that is part of the recounting exercise told Concord Times that in Constituency 20 in Koidu city for example, it was discovered that 16 polling stations recorded ballot stuffing during the presidential, parliamentary and local council elections; while in Constituency 21, ten polling stations were allegedly recorded for over-voting.

In Sandoh chiefdom's Constituency 23, 14 polling stations were said to have been quarantined and the official claimed that there was over-voting in that part of the country.

Moreover, at the Native Administration Court Barry at Tongoma village with centre number 3103, over one thousand two hundred and twenty votes (1,220) were discovered to be in excess. The NEC official, who prefers anonymity, said the recounting process in Constituency 24 in the same district indicated that about 8,252 excess ballots were discovered at 6 polling stations.

Meanwhile, the main opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) has questioned the voting pattern in Kono and other parts of the country including the Western Area.

A press statement issued by the secretary general of the party states: "The SLPP notes the response of NEC on the issue of ballot stuffing and intimidation. In this regard, we welcome the quarantined of 10% of the polling stations and the consequent recount of the ballot boxes in those polling stations. We trust that NEC will treat our concerns with the seriousness they deserve in the true spirit of ensuring that no one steals the mandate of the electorate."

It is not clear yet whether the NEC chairperson will annul the over 900 polling stations that have been quarantined over alleged over-voting.

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